Catholic Workers are presently gathering in Worcester, Mass. , USA. The event is being organised by the Mustard Seed community in Worcester. Founding community member, longtime CW, Scott Schaeffer Duffy was in Dublin for the first Pitstop Ploughshares trial in 05. Scott, his family and community are longtime resisters at Raytheon whose headquarters are nearby.
I encourage you to explore this site for photos, speeches (MP3’s) of the 75th. anniversary CW gathering (Worcester, Mass, USA) photos, speechs (MP3’s) etc: http://www.pieandcoffee.org/cw2008
In anyone’s terms, the Catholic Worker is an amazing phenomenon. Many predicted its collapse following the death of it’s founder Dorothy Day in 1980. Instead the movement has grown to 150 communities in the U.S. a dozen in Canada, 3 in OZ/NZ, 8 in Europe and 3 in Mexico see community directory on http://www.catholicworker. org Given it’s decentralised autonomous nature and tolerance for participation by folks who may not be Catholic, anarchist or pacifist the movement has continued with a remarkable coherency of belief and praxis.
The movement was founded by American activist Dorothy Day and French philosopher/ Union Square soap box speaker Peter Maurin in 1933 on the lower east side of New York during the Depression. The Catholic Worker came out as pacifist in WW2 splitting the movement. Scores of young Catholic Worker men were interned as C.O.’s. Catholic Workers were the first to burn their draft cards publicly in the early stages of the Vietnam War. Such Catholic Workers like Tom Cornell speaking at this conference, were sent to jail for 2-3 years. As the Vietnam War escalated the Catholic Worker provided many of the draft board raiders to the nonviolent direct action movement inspired by the priest resister Berrigan brothers. Since the 1980’s Catholic Workers provided many of the activist for the Berrigan inspired plowshares actions http://www.plowsharesactions.org
The Catholic Worker is most well known in the U.S. for its practise of the “acts of mercy” – its soup kitchens, aids hospices, hospitality houses for the homeless and prisoners families, visitation of prisoners and death row inmates etc. The Catholic Worker refuses all state funding – getting by on donations and freegan dumpster diving.
The Catholic Worker has has been a significant landmark in the American anarchist and anti-war movements over the decades. It has been celebrated by variety of Americans – Noam Chomsky, Abbie Hoffman, Martin Sheen, Martin Scorcese, John & Joan Cusack, Michael Harrington, Bishop Gumbleton, Utah Philips etc. Obama likes to quote Dorothy Day which could be a bit of a worry. In the early stages of the Bush presidency, George quoted Dorothy Day at a speech at Notre Dame and was quickly slammed by her daughter Tamar and grandkids. Catholic Workers fear being mainstreamed and the nomination of Dorothy Day (who when alive said “Don’t call me a saint, I don;t want to be dismissed that easily!”) for canonisation has been opposed by many in the movement.
The Catholic Worker has been celebrated in film “Entertaining Angels” starring Martin Sheen, stage recently released “Fool for Christ”, song Utah Philips/ Ani DiFranco “Anarchy”. A recent episode of the TV hit “Wire” was filmed at the Baltimore CW soup kitchen using CW’s as actors. There has been much academic work and movement literature published on the Catholic Worker. The most recent work by Sharon Nepstead on the plowshares actions and Robert Elsberg recent editing of Dorothy Days diaries.
Catholic Worker in Australia
Although preceded by a Catholic Worker paper in Melbourne in the ’30’s, a hospitality/anti-war resistance house in Melbourne and farm at Gladysdale in the ’60’s (both which Dorothy Day visited) – the Catholic Worker has a continued presence coming out of Brisbane since 1982. Brisbane membership were fashioned in resistance under the authoritarian government of Joh Bjeleke Petersen, with anarchist pacifist politics they opened a hospitality house for homeless aboriginal youth & released prisoners. They played a significant role in resisting Joh, closing Boggo Rd Jail, resisting war preparations, military training at Cunungara of Indonesian troops killing in East Timor & West Papua etc etc.
Catholic Worker in Ireland
The Catholic Worker arrived in Ireland in an organised fashion with the Pitstop Ploughshares resistance action at Shannon Airport in Feb 03. http://www.peaceontrial.com Preceeding this there have been about a dozen people in Ireland who have spent time living and working at Catholic Workers in the U.S. – Caoimhe Butterly, Ciaron O’Reilly, Stephen Cummings, Petria Malone, Benny McCabe, Paul O’Connor etc. Thus far the Catholic Worker has failed to take root in Ireland – the jury is still out on why? – and today the Dublin CW is a loose collective that sustains the weekly at anti-war presents at the GPO and meets for prayer & reflection Given the large participation of Irish Americans in the Catholic Worker movement it was assumed that Ireland would be fertile ground, it hasn’t been!
Dublin based journalist Harry Browne addresses some of the reasons why in his forthcoming book “Hammered by the Irish” http://bushtelegrap h.wordpress. com/2008/ 06/13/hammered- …rish/
to be published in the U.S. by Counterpunch http://www.countepunch. org in the next few weeks and in his article http://thedublinrev iew.com/archive/ twentyfive/ browne.html that appeared in the Dublin Review
Once again check out the speeches on this site